Chapter 4: Pure and Mixed Devotion

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Nārada Bhakti Sūtra 72

nāsti teṣu jāti-vidyā-rūpa-kula-dhana-kriyādi-bhedaḥ


na asti — there is not; teṣuin them; jāti — of class; vidyā — education; rūpa — beauty; kula — family; dhana — wealth; kriyā — occupation; ādi — and so on; bhedaḥ — difference.


There are no distinctions among such pure devotees in terms of social class, education, bodily beauty, family status, wealth, occupation, and so on.


Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, does not discriminate among devotees based on their birth, wealth, and so on, so why should we? Kṛṣṇa says, "O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth — women, vaiśyas [merchants], and śūdras [workers] — attain the supreme destination" (Bg. 9.32). And according to the Padma Purāṇa, "Anyone who thinks of the Deity of Viṣṇu as merely stone or the guru as an ordinary man, or who thinks a Vaiṣṇava belongs to a particular family or country, is a resident of hell."

In his Upadeśāmrta (6), Rūpa Gosvāmī has also warns us not to take a material view of devotees: "Being situated in his original Kṛṣṇa conscious position, a pure devotee does not identify with the body. Such a devotee should not be seen from a materialistic point of view. Indeed, one should overlook a devotee's having a body born in a low family, a body with a bad complexion, a deformed body, or a diseased or infirm body. According to ordinary vision, such imperfections may seem prominent in the body of a pure devotee, but despite such seeming defects, the body of a pure devotee cannot be polluted. It is exactly like the waters of the Ganges, which sometimes during the rainy season are full of bubbles, foam, and mud. The Ganges waters do not become polluted. Those who are advanced in spiritual understanding will bathe in the Ganges without considering the condition of the water."

Śrīla Prabhupāda states that one should not think, "Oh, here is an American gosvāmī," and on that basis discriminate against him. On the other hand, Westerners who have come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness by Prabhupāda's grace should not be puffed up and think themselves better than Indian brāhmaṇas. The śāstras state, kalau śūdra-sambhavaḥ: "In the Age of Kali, everyone is born a śūdra." We are elevated by the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but we have nothing to be proud of on our own account: it is all due to the mercy of the Lord and His pure devotee. Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura set the example: even after he became the most elevated transcendentalist, he did not assert himself as a superior person but wished to be regarded as lowborn. In the name of becoming a transcendentalist, one should not become captured again by false pride.

Only one who is ignorant of the transforming power of bhakti discriminates against devotees on the basis of material designations. Prabhupāda writes, "One should therefore avoid observing a pure devotee externally, but should try to see the internal features and understand how he is engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord" (The Nectar of Instruction, Text 6, purport).

In her prayers to Lord Kapila, Devahūti affirmed that the Lord's holy names possess the transcendental power to transform anyone: "Oh, how glorious are they whose tongues are chanting Your holy name! Even if born in families of dog-eaters, such persons are worshipable" (Bhāg. 3.33.7).

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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
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